Iron Mountain Buys Archiving Vendor Mimosa Systems

Iron Mountain announced today that it has acquired privately-held archiving vendor Mimosa Systems. The approximately $112 million deal significantly bolsters Iron Mountain’s archiving portfolio with on-premises software for email, file and SharePoint archiving. With the purchase, Iron Mountain also picks up just over a thousand existing Mimosa customers and a good talent pool with expertise in archiving and eDiscovery.

My preliminary perspective is that this acquisition will entail some near- and mid-term bumps for Iron Mountain customers and prospects, but will ultimately prove positive. The three main reasons:

  • Message archiving remains critically important. Over the past decade, tens of thousands of organizations have adopted message archiving solutions. An array of vendors, providing archiving offerings for Exchange, Notes Domino, and other messaging systems, have helped these buyers comply with regulations, mitigate legal risk, and improve operational efficiency. While the message archiving market is mature, it’s changing and growing at a rapid clip. Although Mimosa made an impressive initial entry into SharePoint archiving last year, message archiving accounts for most of new customers the vendor signed in the last 12 months. With this acquisition, Iron Mountain demonstrates that it understands how important message archiving is to prospective buyers and its strong intent to capitalize on the opportunity.
  • Functionality delivered as on-premises software (as opposed to SaaS-based solutions) matters to many archiving buyers. With the promise of lower total cost of ownership, more rapid deployments, and other advantages, message archiving vendors providing SaaS-based solutions report strong customer growth. In announcing its April 2009 partnership with Mimecast for SaaS-based message archiving, Iron Mountain sought to take advantage of this market growth. While the vendor has had some traction with this partnership, prospective buyers with a preference for on-premises solutions due to privacy, security, legal, and other concerns remained out of reach. Now, with Mimosa’s on-premises message archiving software, Iron Mountain can more effectively target these buyers as well as organizations interested in exploring hybrid solutions, combining a mix of on-premises infrastructure and cloud-based services.
  • Message archiving buyers struggle with eDiscovery challenges. From a series of podcasts I’ve recorded with message archiving customers (e.g., Canaccord, Media General, and Rohm and Haas) over the past few months and from ongoing exchanges with enterprise buyers, it’s clear that many are achieving legal risk mitigation objectives but most organizations struggle. Interestingly, top challenges typically don’t include issues with insufficient message archiving features or other application-specific factors. Instead enterprises report difficulties in synchronizing eDiscovery, archiving, and records management efforts along with issues in establishing policies for retention management and legal hold as key challenges. Effectively incorporating Mimosa’s archiving products and expertise into the broader Iron Mountain portfolio holds potential to ease these difficulties. For example, a solution that tightly integrates message archiving, preservation, and legal review along with solid best practices guidance would go a long way in easing enterprise eDiscovery pain.

Enterprises report frustrations in integrating applications that support disparate steps of the eDiscovery process. If Iron Mountain successfully incorporates the Mimosa product set into its portfolio, the vendor has good potential to address enterprise legal risk mitigation headaches. This is a considerable effort, however, and success is certainly not assured. I’ll be monitoring Iron Mountain’s execution on this deal and will be looking for examples of customers leveraging multiple Iron Mountain archiving, records management, and eDiscovery offerings in production environments. If your organization fits this description, please send me a note at bhill@forrester.com.

What do you think the acquisition means for the message archiving market? I welcome your comments here. Also, Forrester is currently conducting research on message archiving trends, budgets, and user expectations. We’re wrapping up an online survey now and value your message archiving insight. If you would like to participate in an online survey to support this research, please click on this link. (No vendors please.) We plan to publish key summary findings in early 2010.

Comments

re: Iron Mountain Buys Archiving Vendor Mimosa Systems

You made mention deep in the blog post about problems related to adopting message archiving, specifically:

"...enterprises report difficulties in synchronizing eDiscovery, archiving, and records management efforts along with issues in establishing policies for retention management and legal hold as key challenges. Effectively incorporating Mimosa’s archiving products and expertise into the broader Iron Mountain portfolio holds potential to ease these difficulties..."

Unfortunately this isn't the case. For years now, vendors (and Mimosa is no different) have been referring to their products as 'Archiving Solutions', however, these products are neither. They do not perform archiving (in the manner required to meet Records Management requirements), and they may be tools, but they are NOT solutions.

The issues related to retention and records management require assigning retention periods based on the CONTENT of a message, and establishing a means to store "like retention period" messages together to facilitate proper management (search across repositories, backups, dispositioning). With proper effort, Mimosa can be configured to assist in providing these capabilities, but it doesn't do it OOTB, nor do other COTS products.

The Iron Mountain acquisition may prove beneficial for them to offer something better than they have now, but it provides no greater benefit or security for clients as it will likely be marketed. I'm sure the same old saw will be brought out telling clients that it's cheaper to keep everything and then search a digital haystack for what you want and this isn't the way organizations are going, and isn't at all a best practice for Records Management. It increases risk immensely, and as the size of the haystack grows and backup costs and storage costs increase, only one organization benefits- the service provider.

Other concerns are the potential commingling of content on servers, backups, and disk arrays or whatever form of storage is used (privacy), the inability to isolate one organization's content in the event of a legal issue to facilitate implementing a legal hold (eDiscovery),and the potential loss of access in the event of a disaster, emergency, or other catastrophe impacting the service provider (COOP).

Bigger is not always better- while bundling this offering into a service portfolio for Iron Mountain may be beneficial for them, private users who were independently utilizing or considering Mimosa as a tool to use for their e-mail management are now facing a decision of what other options they have.

re: Iron Mountain Buys Archiving Vendor Mimosa Systems

Thanks for your comments. It’s great to see your feedback and you bring up several important points. Here’s a quick response to a couple of them …

1. Yes, today records management and message archiving are separate and distinct for most organizations. Vendors with considerable message archiving market share (e.g., Symantec Enterprise Vault for on-premises archiving or LiveOffice and Smarsh for SaaS-based archiving) don’t offer records management functionality. For reference, Forrester evaluated eight different records management offerings in The Forrester Wave: Records Management, Q2 2009 [http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/wave%26trade%3B_records_management%2C_q2_2009/q/id/47332/t/2] and late last year we also published some survey based records management content in Records Management: User Expectations, Market Trends, And Obstacles[http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/records_management_user_expectations%2C_market_trends%2C_and/q/id/55123/t/2] and other documents. (This content is available to Forrester clients and a lot of the survey-based findings appear in a Q4 bylined ARMA International article.) While Mimosa, Symantec, LiveOffice, Smarsh, and many other archiving vendors don’t offer records management (e.g., physical records management, DoD 5015.2-STD V3 certification, etc.), these and other many other archiving vendors do however provide less comprehensive retention management capabilities.

2. Both records management message archiving users report low levels of eDiscovery confidence. Several factors account for this, but it’s important to note that, based on separate survey data, both records management stakeholders and message archiving stakeholders report low usage of integrated legal hold functionality and challenges in establishing policies for retention management and legal hold along with difficulties in aligning with other stakeholders (e.g., IT, legal, etc.) to help meet regulatory, legal risk mitigation, and other objectives. Over the next few months, Forrester will be publishing new reports on the message archiving market. There is no technology “silver bullet” for records management or for message archiving – successful programs (whatever the delivery model) require careful consideration to people, process, and integration aspects to avoid future frustrations. If your enterprise has a great story on how you’ve successfully coordinated with multiple stakeholders and across multiple products that support the eDiscovery process, I’d love to hear about it.

3. Adoption rates for SaaS/hosted solutions for records management are low. In contrast, comparable adoption rates for message archiving solutions are higher. In selecting SaaS/hosted solutions (especially for message archiving) user organizations cite lower TCO, more rapid deployment capabilities, and other advantages. For both the distinct RM and message archiving markets, survey respondents report that privacy, security, and legal concerns are adoption barriers in considering SaaS/hosted solutions. These issues along with disaster recovery, SLAs, etc. should be important in making a determination to use either a SaaS/hosted solution or traditional on-premises software.

4. Forrester recommends against a “save everything” approach. Provided that items in question aren’t subject to ongoing or reasonably expected legal / regulatory action, organizations should eliminate content in accordance with their retention schedules. Not doing so can lead to unnecessary legal risk, eDiscovery process complications and expense, and ongoing IT burdens.

I agree that “bigger is not always better.” Integrations (people, processes, and technologies) are key in acquisitions like this. From my perspective, I think it’s good that Iron Mountain now can offer some additional options to its customer base, but again I see that integration will be “a considerable effort, however, and success is certainly not assured.” There’s potential here for a compelling alignment between Iron Mountain’s Mimosa, Stratify, and other offerings, but we’ll see how this develops over time.

Other thoughts?